MP’s concern over ‘gaps’ in government financial support packages during coronavirus pandemic

You are here: Home / News / MP’s concern over ‘gaps’ in government financial support packages during coronavirus pandemic
01 Apr 2020
Margaret Greenwood MP has raised concerns over ‘gaps’ in measures that the government has announced to support people financially through the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey, Ms Greenwood welcomed the steps that the government has taken to try to prevent redundancies through the new Job Retention Scheme and the support that has been made available for self-employed people via the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

However, the Wirral West MP, who is the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has highlighted a number of concerns including the fact that those eligible for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme won’t be able to receive payments until June, leaving them with a gap in cash flow of two months

Furthermore, the government has not extended eligibility for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to workers earning below the threshold to qualify of £118 a week, nor has the government raised the level of SSP and the support that has been made available so far does not cover certain groups, such as people who remain employed but whose hours are cut.

The only alternative for people who are not covered by SSP, the Job Retention Scheme or the Self-employment Income Support Scheme is to claim Universal Credit or new-style Employment and Support Allowance.

In recent days Margaret Greenwood has drawn attention to the fact that there are unprecedented numbers of people needing to access support. That is causing pressure on the system leaving people facing long waits to register a claim online and then to have their identity verified, thus potentially holding up payments.

Margaret Greenwood MP said:

“There are unprecedented numbers of people needing to access support at this time and the government must get help to people quickly.

“Even once a Universal Credit claim has been processed, people still face a five-week wait for their first payment. Labour has been calling for this waiting period to be abolished and for the loan that people can get to help them through this period to be made into a non-repayable grant.

“Self-employed people who are eligible for help via the Self-employment Income Support Scheme won’t be able to receive support from the scheme until June.

“A gap in cash flow of two months can be a significant problem for a small business and it is likely that more self-employed people may now make a claim for Universal Credit, adding to the demands on the Department for Work and Pensions at a time when people already face long waits to register a claim online and then to have their identity verified.

“That is why I have written to the Secretary of State to raise concerns around gaps that still exist in the support the government has announced. I am also seeking clarification on how the social security system is coping with the increase in demand for support and how it will adapt to provide that support.

“It is important that, as the Opposition, we are constructive in our approach to the current crisis while still fulfilling our duty of holding the government to account.”

back